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Century-old flag from WWI gifted to the Shearwater Aviation Museum

HALIFAX – A WWI artifact, in pristine condition and with a remarkable history, now has a permanent home at the Shearwater Aviation Museum.

The flag dates back to May 1916, when Quebec brothers Roy and Donald Foss signed up for overseas duty. They joined the 28 Squadron, Royal Air Force and brought the flag as a memento of their home country.

“Just think of it, this flag was there at the Third Battle of Ypres and at the Italian front. What deeds might it tell of Canadian skill and daring,” said Canadian Naval Memorial Trust member Hugh MacPherson.

The brothers came home safely from the war and for decades the flag was carefully kept by their family and later entrusted to a friend.

That friend, now 91, decided to donate it to HMCS Sackville, which in turn re-gifted the flag to the Shearwater Aviation Museum.

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A reception was held on Tuesday on board HMCS Sackville.

“It’s a reminder that Canadians, not just in aviation but particular in this case in aviation, are pioneers,” MacPherson said. “I think more than that, we do it in a rather unsung fashion.”

The museum’s curator, Christine Hines, says the artifact has a special place in 12-Wing Shearwater’s history.

Donald Foss later became a pioneering bush pilot in Quebec and northern Ontario, flying a decommissioned Curtiss HS-2L. That same aircraft was flown in Halifax by the air station’s commander Lt. Richard E. Byrd, who would later become an Arctic explorer.

“[The flag has] been in a lot of historic places, a lot of historic battles,” said Hines.

“What it could say if it could tell us what it’s seen and where it’s been I think would be really interesting stories. It gives us a chance really to tell a few more stories.”

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The museum plans to display the flag prominently and feature it in their centennial celebrations in 2018.

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